Empires don’t build themselves
There is a pivotal moment in the career of every business owner where they transform from a founder into a leader. This is the exact moment when you realise that people are not a large expense on your balance sheet but more like valuable assets.
The problem every founder faces, irrespective of how smart or efficient they might be, is that the business reaches a point where it bottlenecks at the founder, preventing things from getting done or moving forward at an acceptable pace, hindering your growth.
I often see entrepreneurs resisting the need to recruit more people for many reasons but the most obvious is the fear of handing over.
I have also seen the opposite of this, where founders try to hire too many people to fast. Just to be clear, I have been on both sides of this fence to get to my conclusion of what works better. The founders I am trying to reach out to here are the one’s that wait too long to build their dream teams.
I know the feeling all to well of wanting to do everything myself, either because I believe I can do things better or I want to save on cashflow. This outlook changed dramatically when I took on the right people in the right roles that are more skilled than I to execute certain tasks better than I can ever dream of.
As a founder with no formal education in business, there are many areas in business that I need to leave to someone more capable. I am not only referring to strategic or admin related positions, but on the creative and technical side of the business too. As founder you are responsible for the innovation and direction of the company, and bringing the vision of the company to reality, not by doing things yourself but by building the team that can do it better and in less time.
Even if you had the skills as founder to complete every tasks required, you simply don’t have enough bandwidth and mind space to even come close to what is required. Even at founder level, I believe you need more than one founder. A lot rests on the shoulders of a single founder and more heads around the table is certainly much stronger than one. I have founded many companies over the last few years and I have co-founders in every single one of them. I seriously do not believe in going at it alone.
In my opinion, hanging on to a solo foundership role is spending way too much on opportunity cost to simply preserve your pride.
Whenever I speak about this, I see one of two reactions, either one relates to what I am saying with everything sounding incredibly obvious or nevertheless the person believe themselves to be an exception to the rule. It’s the second reaction that I find concerning and I see really smart entrepreneurs making this same mistake over and over. They end up throwing everything of themselves into their companies only to stroll along month after month with no significant progress – just as I did a few years ago.
Now, with an entirely new mindset, we see over 1000% of growth each year in our group.
If I could put this into perspective, Apple employs 123,000 full-time employees and maintains 504 retail stores in 24 countries as of 2018. You can’t run a multi billion dollar company, spear headed by a single, optimistic entrepreneur out of a garage. If that is what you are aiming for, buy a lottery ticket, your chances of reaching your goals are much higher.
Once I got over my pride and decided to start growing my team, two new reasons surfaced for not doing so 1 ) The hassle of staffing plans, performance management, HR issues, office politics etc and 2 ), wondering whether I will see a return on this hiring investment or whether they are the right fit for the job.
This is perfectly normal if you feel the same. The bigger your team, the more you will feel like you are being pulled apart, especially if you don’t have the right HR structures in place – I learnt this the very hard way. Get a really really good person to advise you on the HR side of things and you will be fine.
The easiest way for you to change your mindset on this is to believe that you are making an investment and that you treat it as an investment. Accept that it is just like any other investment that requires upfront funds, some of your time and the returns will come later.
Fearing the unknown is counter intuitive for any entrepreneur, and I believe it to be linked to the fear of losing control. You only have to fear what you know, and even then you can make calculated decisions on how to respond when you are surrounded with the right team, on the floor and around the board room table.
Whenever I am faced with these fears I try weigh up the risk of taking action against the risk of taking no action. If you hire the wrong person or they don’t deliver on your expectations, it is a tough situation that you can actually deal with. Failure is a possibility. If you hire no-one, however, you destine yourself to become stagnant and failure becomes inevitable.